Why Do People Leave Coins on Military Graves at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery?
While getting out and about on the neighborhood parade circuit, we've made a lot of new friends that have invited the station to tag along to some of the events they were putting together.
We met Susan, who drives a classic Model T and some of her fellow classic car friends at Quinn's birthday parade. Quinn was turning seven and LOVES cars so his grandma put together a huge parade of cars to cruise a couple of laps around his house. We ran into Susan again during Columbia Village's celebration for the Timberline Class of 2020 and we exchanged phone numbers.
Last weekend, she shot me a text to invite us out to be part of a cruise honoring our fallen heroes that ended at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery. It's hard to believe that I've lived in Boise nearly a decade and that was the first time I'd been up the hill to see it in person. After a few quiet minutes in prayer, we ventured around to see a little more of it.
One of the car club members pulled us aside to ask if we knew why there were coins placed on some of the headstones. I had heard of the tradition of leaving coins on the military graves before but never really understood what they meant. As he sorted through a handful of coins, he explained that each denomination of coin left behind by visitors represents a different message to the fallen soldier's family.
- Penny: Means you visited to pay respect.
- Nickel: Means you were part of boot camp at the same time as the fallen soldier.
- Dime: Means you served with the fallen soldier at sometime during their time in the service.
- Quarter: Means you were present when the soldier was killed.
Normally, the Idaho Division of Veterans Services puts together a beautiful tribute to our fallen heroes that hundreds of people show up for on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, this year that ceremony won't be taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential health risks of assembling in large groups but if you'd like to stop by and leave a coin or two on your own, the gates are open from morning to dusk daily. You can find the cemetery at 10100 Horseshoe Bend Road.
So what happens to all of those coins? If they're left in a national or state veterans cemeteries, they're usually collected and put toward either the burial costs for needy veterans or upkeep of the facility.